When thinking about employees’ creativity, communication, and responsiveness in an office – what aids in generating those characteristics? The physical surroundings and environment of an office can greatly affect the team’s performance. A closed off work environment minimizes the opportunity for face-to-face interaction, communication and teamwork; reducing overall productivity. Literally thinking outside the box of a traditional office layout, many companies are opting for an open office concept.
If you have read our previous post, An Introspective Approach to Improve Business Operations, you are aware that MPE has recently gone through a “Reset” which was centered around an unbiased evaluation of our processes and operations. The streamlined Reset processes, instituted a system of efficiency, quality and responsiveness to our customers. Similarly, the Reset identified areas in which the collaboration and communication of our teams and staff were constricted, partly due to the departmentalization and arrangement of office spaces. Once exposed, a Continuous Improvement (CI) team at MPE was formed to begin investigating alternative approaches to overcome obstructions and lead MPE to paradigm shift.
Effective communication is the key to understanding and responding to requests. Getting the right people together to make a decision is always a challenge. Think of the time it takes to write an email, call and leave a voicemail – all to discuss a complex issue for two minutes. Over the past 38 years, we have had a diverse group of individuals – each with their own workflow. We have team members who have been with us for over 30 years as well as the fresh faces of college students. This wide age-range of employees at MPE collaborate and communicate through complex issues in-person. The open office concept aligns with our culture and approach to business.
Open Office Approach to QROC
In order to improve the productivity, growth, and efficiency of the office, MPE advanced to an open office concept. Removing the physical barriers of a traditional, departmentalized structure, MPE has rearranged our teams in a manner that fosters communication, enhances collaboration and nurtures growth within the organization.
The improvements of the updated office layout are strongly aligned with the philosophy of QRM (Quick Response Manufacturing); The updated office layout has similarities to that of QROC (Quick Response Office Cells) in which a cross-functional team including Sales, Engineering, Process Engineering, Scheduling and Purchasing, are strategically and collaboratively placed within a closed-loop workflow. The result is an enhanced focus on problems in order to significantly reduce response times.
Though there are many benefits to this structure for the MPE team, the principal factor in making this change benefits to our customers:
- Enhanced communication
- Increased Customer Service
- Reduction in lead times
- Quick response to quote request
- Improved, timely response to expedites
- Increased On-Time Delivery
With a quick turn-around, MPE completed the new office layout and alignment of personnel within a two week period. In order to provide flexibility to the new arrangement, MPE reused existing furniture and partitions which will permit for alternations and growth as necessary (while reducing landfill waste). Additionally, by upgrading to LED uplighting we are able to reduce eye strain and lessen our carbon footprint.
The initial stage of MPE’s open office configuration is complete and next steps are already being discussed. Our focus is on implementing other means of promoting productivity, encouraging collaboration, reducing work strain and maintaining noise levels.
MPE is committed to a culture of continuous improvement and growth within the organization whether it scrutinizes our internal flow, the manufacturing process of a component or in this case the layout of the office.